Everyone knows that Star Wars The Old Republic will compete with World of Warcraft but EA continues tossing PR grenades.
The Old Republic will try to steal some of Blizzard's 12 million subscribers when it releases on PCs in the next few months. Publisher Electronic Arts is gambling a lot of money and clout that the first MMO from story-based RPG experts BioWare will be able to unseat World of Warcraft as the Subscription King. Frank Gibeau, head of the EA Games label that governs TOR, leveled some heavy comments against WoW to make his company's game appear more attractive. Perhaps Gibeau is overcompensating for the immense risk that developing TOR has been for EA.
"It's a big bet for my label and for EA," said Gibeau but he thinks that his game has a lot going for it. "I love Blizzard products, but they're not the entire market. There is an opportunity to come in with a new IP." He didn't stop there.
"When I play World of Warcraft, you go and get your quests, and you go and do your quests, but it feels more like doing a shopping list at times," Gibeau said. "[TOR] is more about talking to characters, learning what's going on, investing in it, getting emotionally attached to it."
Just in case you weren't clear as vodka on this subject, Gibeau wants to make sure you knew that TOR is different. "On multiple levels we're highly differentiated and different from World of Warcraft. We're not being slavish or imitating them at all. We're doing our own thing. We're doing our own unique way. BioWare and Blizzard have been around for almost the same period of time. They've built incredible audiences. They have their own unique cultures, and they do things very differently."
Despite Gibeau stressing the different-ness of The Old Republic, playing the game felt very WoW-like at last year's GDC and reading reports from recent shows doesn't seem to have changed people's opinions that much. Perhaps if BioWare showed off more character creation and the first few levels of play, that would get people more excited about the game. Of course, how well that experience plays will often make or break an MMO, so it makes sense to keep that close to the chest. It's even possible that making sure those first few levels are absolutely flawless is why development has been delayed for so long.
Either that or BioWare ran out of hamsters to fuel their world domination.